Three Years Ago, I Became Bark M.


On June 13th, 2012, I was featured as a guest writer at The Truth About Cars for the first time, writing about my Boss 302 purchase experience. The Boss remains a fixture in my life and my garage, but nearly everything else around it has changed.

The little four-year-old boy who was sad that I might get a Corvette because he wouldn’t be able to ride in it will be entering second grade in the fall. The infant girl we left had home with Grandmom that day while we went shopping is going to preschool for the first time this fall, as well. I didn’t spend much time writing, if any, back then. I now spend at least a little bit of time every day doing it, whether it’s here or elsewhere.

The pseudonym I invented that day has now become part of who I am. In fact, as you can see above, it’s now my very own #obnoxiousvanityplate. But are Bark M and Mark Baruth the same person? In most ways, yes. In this wretched business of automotive journalism, it’s not really enough to be just a “good writer.” You have to be different. You have to say something in a way that makes you stand out, makes you unique. But you can’t be that unique.

According to some, my style is “opinionated and unfiltered.” That’s good, isn’t it? Well, unless you want to suck on the teat of the OEMs. My review of the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid and Plug-in Hybrid over at Jalopnik was apparently too candid for the good people at Hyundai—I did not receive an invite to the Tucson launch in Minneapolis next month. I’m gonna go ahead and count that as a blessing. Reviewing cars for a living is probably the worst way to make it in this business, anyway.

My real-life style tends to be opinionated and unfiltered, too. I’m never going to win any popularity contests. I push people around me to think and act differently, and sometimes that makes them uncomfortable. However, it also makes them better. I believe that good writing has the ability to make people think and act differently, and maybe that might make them uncomfortable, too. And hopefully it makes them better, too.

So I will never write a “Question of the Day.” I’ll never write a review of a car in the hopes that it will be OEM-friendly enough to get me an invite to the next event. I have an obligation to be the truest self that I can, because you’ve given me the honor of your attention for however long it takes you to read something I’ve written. You’ve given me your trust. You deserve the best I have on any given day. You deserve, in essence, the Truth.

Which means that if TTAC is supposed to be The Truth About Cars, then Riverside Green is The Truth About Life, in all its pockmarked glory, the way that I see it through my own blue-gray eyes. It’s imperfect, but it’s beautiful.

Navel-gazing done.


8 Replies to “Three Years Ago, I Became Bark M.”

    • Domestic Hearse

      “We all have our little solipsistic delusions, ghastly intuitions of utter singularity: that we are the only one in the house who ever fills the ice-cube tray, who unloads the clean dishwasher, who occasionally pees in the shower, whose eyelid twitches on first dates; that only we take casualness terribly seriously; that only we fashion supplication into courtesy; that only we hear the whiny pathos in a dog’s yawn, the timeless sigh in the opening of the hermetically-sealed jar, the splattered laugh in the frying egg, the minor-D lament in the vacuum’s scream; that only we feel the panic at sunset the rookie kindergartner feels at his mother’s retreat. That only we love the only-we. That only we need the only-we. Solipsism binds us together, J.D. knows. That we feel lonely in a crowd; stop not to dwell on what’s brought the crowd into being. That we are, always, faces in a crowd.”

      ― David Foster Wallace, Infinite Jest

  1. Dan Goodman

    Didn’t know about you until I was introduced to you online by your brother. But I think I am going to enjoy knowing you as well, in cyberspace.

    The Baruth family sounds like a fairly exceptionally good place for nurturing indepently-minded talent, even going back to previous generations, such as when I read Jack’s reflections about his relationship with his father.

    As a father, my heart (which I do not even acknowledge the existence of that easily, to most people) was deeply touched, when I felt how Jack had recognized how it had been, when his father sat by his bedside while he recovered, pressing his morphine pump for him, so that he might enjoy uninterrupted rest.

    Somehow, there is an essential element of father-son love and caring in that simple act that defies any explanation or comprehension, but just is.

    Glad to know you will be more accessible to me now that you and Jack have joined forces.


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